Respect is often thought of as the key ingredient to a great relationship, but the concept is hard to define. At the same time, most of us know when our partner disrespects us.
What we expect when we ask others to give us respect is not easy to always put your finger on. Respect may mean different things for different people. For instance, there’s the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
Then there’s the Platinum Rule. Basically, the Platinum Rule is the ultimate definition of respect: Treat others the way they want to be treated.
In order for someone to treat you the way you want to be treated, you must be very clear about how you want to be treated, or they have to be a mind reader. If you feel disrespected by your partner, start off by using clarity in your communication with them.
When you feel disrespected, say “I need you to ____” and state the new behavior that you would prefer to see instead. For example, you might say, “I need you to speak to me with less anger in your tone.”
Little research has been done on respect, because for some time it was not defined as something that could be measured. More recently, however, researchers attempting to study respect in relationships created a definition of respect that included the following psychological traits:
- listening openly
- not abusive or judgmental
In another study on respect, the same researchers found that respect was so highly correlated with relationship satisfaction that, for research participants, these two concepts basically seemed to be the very same thing.
5 Signs Your Partner Doesn’t Respect You
Do you have a baseline of respect in your relationship? Consider these points to find out where you and your loved one stand in the realm of relational respect.
1. Your partner tells you what is wrong with you
No one is perfect. You already know this, which is why you don’t need your partner to keep reminding you of it. It’s hard enough for you to accept your own faults without a reminder.
If your partner frequently speaks up about what they feel are your weak points or mistakes, this is a sign they don’t respect you. Tell them that although you may make mistakes from time to time, you would prefer to hear about all the positive things that your partner likes about you.
2. Your partner doesn’t listen to you
Listening is a basic sign of respect, and both halves in a relationship should have a chance to listen and speak their mind. When one partner interrupts, talks over, or shows disdain for the other person when they are speaking, communication begins to break down. Responding to your partner when they speak is essential to a respectful relationship.
In a study of mindfulness and relationship conflict, researchers found that being fully present in the moment could help couples feel more respect for their partner after an argument. The mindfulness study stated, “mindfulness may play an influential role in romantic relationship well-being.” If you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, try some deep breathing, tighten your abdominal muscles, and focus on maintaining emotional control while you work through the problem.
3. Your partner always gets their way
A successful partnership has to be a two-way street. One of you shouldn’t be always getting things their way. Compromise, especially on things that are not your top priorities, is key to a respectful relationship.
When your partner tries to control the relationship and insists on having things their way, it is a sign that they do not respect your needs. Try asserting yourself, especially when the subject at hand is important to you. If your partner still does not give you a turn in having things your way, tell them this behavior is unacceptable.
4. Your partner disrespects your friends or family
Your partner doesn’t have to love your friends or family like you do, but they do need to treat them with respect. As a couple, you will be spending time together in the future, and part of your lives together will include family time.
It is important to a healthy, respectful relationship for you and your partner to have a good relationship with each other’s friends and family. Even if you are only civil to each other, respect for your partner’s loved ones is important.
5. Your partner is frequently unkind
One foundational angle of respect is not causing anyone harm. This includes not hurting feelings intentionally. Everyone is responsible for his or her own words and actions. Intentional name-calling, belittling, angry words, threatening language, or even a judgmental or accusing tone are all ways that your partner might show disrespect.
Respect is a two-way street; if the “traffic” on your relationship road seems to be completely one-way, consider taking concrete steps to reroute the traffic … or take another road.